103 South Rd, Braybrook. Phone: 9312 1009
For many years, every time we drove past the slightly ramshackle yet high-potential shopping strip on South Rd, Braybrook, we would scan the shopfronts eagerly.
Why not? After all, it’s just the sort of precinct that regularly delivers us food gratification.
We have always been disappointed, though.
A locked-up premises going by the splendid name of Extreme Pizza & Kebab, a couple of beauty salons and groceries but little more to inspire us to explore further.
Until a few weeks’ back, when there it was – bingo! – right on the corner: A brand new Vietnamese eatery.
Our mid-week visit is our first, the place is companionably busy but the service is great.
The vibe is nice – about midway between your standard, tiled, formica-laden pho joint and some of the swisher joints in Footscray central.
We are first seated at a tiny table for two, but then invited to move a bigger option near the front window that affords us more room for all the bits and pieces, including Bennie’s lurid drink.
The menu seems to throw up few real surprises or points of difference.
There is pho, the usual rice dishes, spring and paper rolls, although there is also beef stew on rice or egg noodle (hu tieu/mi bo kho, $9) and crab meat fried rice (com chien cua, $11).
Despite that, we manage a combined order that is unusually innovative for us.
On the illustrated menu Bennie stabs a digit at the Quang style rice noodles (mi Quang, $9) and says: “I want that!”
This is very, very fine, though Bennie is put off slightly by the presence of two hard-boiled egg halves.
A popular dish from the provinces of Quang Nam and Da Nang in the south central coast of Vietnam, this is built on a hearty handful of very wide, slippery and delicious rice noodles coloured/flavoured with turmeric. The effect is just like the kind of sexy artisan pasta you might get in a posh Italian joint like Grossi Florentino – and pay about $30 or so for the privilege!
Also on board are a fish-based stock, chicken that seems to be stewed rather than steamed or fried, two fat prawns still in their crunchy shells, peanuts and strips of juicy, fatty pork, the lot topped by a couple of commercial prawn crackers and some mint.
It’s all good and I covet it. It’s a refreshing option to the many other soup/noodle options – a bit like Assam laksa is to its Malaysian soup/noodles colleagues.
Bennie likewise covets my order – Vietnamese pan-fried crepe (banh xeo, $11).
This has less stuffing than I’ve had at the likes of Pho Hien Saigon in Sunshine or Wild Rice in Williamstown. In some ways, this is no bad things as it allows the flavour of turmeric-tinged rice flour pancake to come through.
As Bennie memorably opines: “It’s fried and floppy at the same time!”
The filling of the same pork strips as in Bennie’s soup, fine small/medium shell-on prawn tails and bean sprouts is fine with the pancake, fish sauce/chilli dipping concoction and voluminous plate of leafy wonders and mint.
Halfway through our dinner, Bennie and I do swappsies, though I then discover the lad has slurped all the fangtastic noodles. No fair!
Quan Viet seems likely to prosper and thrive not only based on its fine food, which we’re keen to try again soonish.
Like Minh Hy, just up the road apiece in Sunshine, Quan Viet stands out for being the only outlet of its kind in the surrounding neighbourhood.
Check out a much more in-depth review at Footscray Food Blog here.